To paint the scene, you have Deborah, a twenty-one year old Hasidic girl. She has two children and a husband, Michael. Deborah married at eighteen with no education past high school and no work experience. Her parents supported them financially for a year but that stopped at their first anniversary. Deborah now had eight months work experience as a salesgirl and a newborn baby. Her husband doesn’t have education past a second grade level and they are drowning in debt. Her sales girl job was part time and didn’t provide any benefits so they’re paying off the birth. Deborah’s husband also broke his finger one day and they’re paying for that too.
He now needs to get a manual labor job for minimum wage so he stacks shelves on the night shift and looks after his son during the day while Deborah works. They can’t afford a babysitter so Michael goes without sleep until 4pm when Deborah comes home. He then crashes until 10pm when he gets up to eat something and heads out to his night shift. Deborah and Michael are ships passing in the night and they’re alone. They’re alone in their relationship, they’re alone in their debt and they’re alone in the insurmountable task of tackling the real world after a childhood of being cocooned from it.
When Deborah turns twenty, she discovers she’s pregnant again as birth control is forbidden to her by her Rabbi. Her cries shake her worn out body. She doesn’t feel like she has the emotional strength to push out another baby to bring home to their one bedroom apartment with the empty fridge and the cold, hard floors.
Deborah and Michael’s parents believe in the traditional way of raising a family. They sheltered their children from any secular influence in the hope that their souls would remain pure. They married them off at eighteen so they could start a family at the prescribed age according to their Rabbis. They wanted their children to live the life that they deemed perfect and Godly.
But Deborah and Michael are suffering. They feel lost. They don’t know where to turn from here. They don’t know how to get the education they need to be able to pay off their debt and live a normal lifestyle. They cry themselves to sleep and they rise weary and in pain.
Deborah and Michael don’t believe there’s a God anymore if all this has been done in His name. Deborah breaks down crying to her doctor about her depression that is growing stronger now that she’s in her 7th month of pregnancy. He tells her to let her husband take the night off and take her to the movies. The community discovers this evil, illicit activity and shuns, humiliates them and cuts them off. Deborah has one last phone call with her mother who tells her that their spiritual leader has told her to break off all contact with her daughter and distance herself from the evil that is now Deborah’s family. Deborah has no relief. Michael is kidnapped away by his father and beaten up while being cited verses from the Torah and finally, blessedly being let go to drag his bleeding, shattered self, back to his small home and back to his wife.
He knows that his wife and son are a blessing. He loves them both more than anything but he can’t figure out how to keep them. How to feed them? Where to go from here? He’s 20 years old and he just wants to run away. Deborah, also 20, want to kill herself and sink into the blessed darkness of the grave. She won’t kill herself; she worries about her little boy too much and who will take care of him.
They need healing. They need to find themselves, get back on their feet and live full lives. They don’t know where to go, how to do this, how to afford anything. They have been raped and left for dead by the Ultra-Orthodox society.